July 18, 2023

Determined to Succeed: Urgent Education Needs in Northern Iraq

Nineveh SEED
Sheikhan IDP Camp opened in 2015 so most of the young people living here have spent more than half their lives in the camp.
End of school exams are stressful in and of themselves. Many of us, our children, or grandchildren experienced additional stress during exam time following a year or so of disruption during the pandemic. Imagine, then, how it feels to be sitting exams after years of disrupted schooling due to long-term displacement. This is the situation facing the Yazidi youth who live in the Sheikhan Camp for internally displaced people (IDPs). Mosaic has been working with local NGO Ghazin Al-Zaiton to support this community in accessing additional tuition in order to ensure these students have the best chance of passing their end of school exams. 
Despite taking place in an uncomfortably hot portacabin, class attendance is high amongst these determined students
When Mosaic's Executive Director, Helen Jackson, visited Sheikhan in December 2022, the Camp Manager shared her particular concern for the teenagers who make up a significant number of the 1400 children in the camp. The education project that resulted from that visit has just been successfully completed. Read on to find out how your support enables this transformative programme.
Education is a vital means of offering a stable and safe environment for displaced children, helping people to rebuild their communities and pursue productive, meaningful lives. However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that only 68% of refugee children are in primary school, and this figure then drops to a shocking 37% at secondary level, illustrating that significant structural barriers remain for refugee populations when it comes to accessing post-primary education. 
The Yazidi community, for whom Sheikhan IDP camp has been home for more than eight years, suffered unimaginable persecution at the hands of ISIS, and the subsequent trauma - both individual and generational - will be long-felt. In fact, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria declared in 2016 that ISIS committed genocide against the Yazidis. Lingering security tensions are complicating a return to the Sinjar province from which the Yazidis fled; fundamental services such as electricity and water are not consistently available, and numerous health and education facilities are yet to be reconstructed after being destroyed during the war.
Having been able to attend school at the camp during their primary years, these students face multiple barriers when it comes to progressing to secondary education. This was the concern expressed to Mosaic by the Camp Manager at the end of last year.  We listened, and responded with an education project in Sheikhan Camp this Spring which concluded last month. 
Mosaic's three-month project provided those students who would be sitting end of school exams with an accelerated learning programme specifically designed to help them make up for years of lost learning. The intense course of English classes enabled this group of resilient young people to make the progress needed to succeed. 
On a return trip to Sheikhan in May 2023, we had a chance to hear from participants about the impact of the project.
"I spoke with one young man who wanted to express his gratitude for the English lessons as he had previously been being taught by his older brother. Two of the girls I heard from said that the English classes had been very beneficial, but asked that next time could they please have support in mathematics too! They went on to describe how the harsh conditions within the camp - no access to safe running water and being accommodated in overcrowded tents - leave them feeling like a forgotten generation, stuck in endless limbo. However, education and exam success gave them hope that they could have a future that would be different from their present hardships. The teacher expressed his pride in seeing the exceptional progress the students have made and he felt certain they would now all pass their English exam, whereas prior to the project only a handful were in this position.
This project has had a clear impact on the future chances of young people who have faced huge barriers to accessing education. Mosaic is committed to continuing its support of minority groups experiencing the multiple vulnerabilities of poverty, persecution, and discrimination. Your ongoing support enables us to run further education projects for those who would otherwise be left behind."
Helen Jackson, Executive Director, Mosaic Middle East
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Posted by Mosaic Team